The opening credits to the BBC television sitcom Porridge, which ran from 1974 to 1977, written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, and starring Ronnie Barker and Richard Beckinsale, began with the judge’s sentencing of the main character as follows:
Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court and it is now my duty to pass sentence. You are an habitual criminal who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard, and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner.
Mr Fletcher is handed a maximum five year prison sentence for his troubles.
At a hearing in Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 5th July 2017, an office manager was convicted in her absence of the offences of refusing to provide information and refusing to produce documents without a reasonble excuse, contrary to sections 72 and 77 of the Pensions Act 2004. The offender was ordered to pay a fine of £4,000, £550 costs and a £170 victim’s surcharge.
The office manager had been employed in a Kent based company, which had come to the Pensions Regulator’s attention in connection with potential pension scamming activity. The Pensions Regulator contacted her requesting that she disclose information about emails sent and received while she had been working at the company. There was no response and the Pensions Regulator issued a section 72 notice, noting that it would be a criminal offence if she did not comply with the request. The office manager refused to cooperate without providing a good reason for so doing.
Unlike the fictional Fletcher, the office manager did not attend the criminal hearing in her case. Continued failure to comply with a section 72 notice entitles the Pensions Regulator to bring further criminal proceedings. Presumably, given the repeated nature of the failure to comply without good reason, the criminal consequences are accepted in the same casual manner.
This blog post was written by Patrick Kennedy. For further information, please contact:
Patrick Kennedy, partner, Pensions
T: 0161 836 7788